Ready, steady…relax

If you’re like me then the prelude to Christmas is a hectic blur of to-do lists, gift-wrap flapping, and sugar. Yes, I have started to hoe into the Christmas treats already but I need to keep my strength up.

But it’s good to know that after this last flurry of activity there will be a week or so of peace and relaxation (more or less, depending on your annual leave allowances).

And how do we relax? My favourite thing to do is a good solid block of book or magazine reading, or maybe some movie-watching. So while it’s important to have all your Christmas meal planning and gifting ducks in a row, do make sure to plan for the bit afterwards where you get to put your feet up or spend time with family.

Here are some ways we can help with that –

  • We are open – Not the public holidays mind you, but with only a couple of exceptions libraries will be open between Christmas and New Year. Some closing times may be different though so check our Holiday Hours for more information so you’ll know just when you can pop in with the kids, or on your own for a bit of soothing shelf-browsing.
  • So is the digital library – We have a heap of eResources you can access online. Ebooks, eMagazines, eAudiobooks and more. And these are available any time, including public holidays.
  • We have stuff for kidsStories to go packs, DVDs, music, holiday reading, audiobooks and at Tūranga there’s Lego and Duplo. And if you’re planning a family trip we have titles for that too:

Cover of 52 Fun things to do in the car Cover of 52 fun things to do on the plane Cover of Lonely Planet Travel with childrenCover of My first trip on an airplane Cover of Backseat A-B-See

  • Recommendations – Too hard to choose? Don’t know what to pick? Our staff have selected their favourite books, music, movies and TV shows of the year into our Best of 2018 lists – sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction – whatever you’re into. Or just rock up to a library and ask a staff member what’s good!
  • Summertime Reading Challenge – Pick up a postcard at your local library or enter online for a chance to win some great prizes. Or keep and eye on our Facebook page for more opportunities to win.
  • Fun activities for kids in Christchurch – We list a bunch of fun stuff for kids happening over the summer, from holiday programmes to shows and performances with families in mind.

Whatever you end up doing, stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year. Ngā mihi o te wā!

Christmas Books for Christmas Time

Ah, Christmas. That busy time of the year when families come together, follow family traditions, and generally stay inside eating, sleeping, and watching television despite the gorgeous summer weather outside. If we did this on any other summer day people would think we were mad, but because it’s Christmas no-one bats an eyelid.

This year I’m heading away to house-sit at a friend’s place over the Christmas holiday. It will just be me by myself on the 25th, and so I have complete say over how festive I want the day to be… or not to be. At the moment I’m thinking of just having a relaxing day without too much Christmassy stuff – a sleep in, a walk along the beach, maybe check out a movie. Pure bliss!

But don’t worry, I’m not anti-Christmas. Over the past weeks I’ve been reading and listening to lots of Christmas stories to get in the festive spirit. I’ve read novels, short stories, kids’ books, and more, and here are some of my favourites to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Cover of Skipping ChristmasSkipping Christmas by John Grisham

What would you do if your daughter went travelling overseas, and you didn’t want to celebrate Christmas without her? Skip Christmas and book an overseas cruise, of course! At least, that’s what the Kranks have planned, and so they buy their tickets, get their tans, and start dieting to look their best on their tropical holiday. But even the best-laid plans can go awry, and the Kranks’ neighbours won’t let them off easily with not celebrating the Christmas season …

This is a fun, light read, and I bet you’ll see some of your own neighbours in the characters living in Hemlock Street.

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but until I’d read this, I’d always thought Truman Capote and Al Capone were the same person. I couldn’t wait to read about how an American gangster celebrated Christmas as a kid!  Needless to say, this wasn’t the book I expected it to be…

What this book was was a lovely stroll down memory lane. A beautifully-illustrated short story, it takes you back to a simpler time, when your biggest Christmas worry was whether 7-year-old you and your 60-something-year-old friend would have enough money to buy the secret ingredient to go in your Christmas fruitcake to send to the President. A lovely quick read that will leave you feeling sentimental about childhood Christmas memories.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol by Richard Curtis

Hands up if you grew up with Blackadder and his friends Baldrick, Darling, Queenie, et al! If so, you don’t want to miss their take on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol.

It’s Victorian England, and when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set out to reward the good and the generous, they come across Ebenezer Blackadder, ‘the nicest man in England’. While in Dicken’s story, the villain comes good after being visited by Christmas ghosts, this version has the opposite outcome – the lure of wealth and power can turn even the kindest of souls.

This has all the humour of the Blackadder shows you love, and is a highly enjoyable hour of audio. Plus, it’s written by the same Richard Curtis who brought us that other guilty Christmas treat, Love Actually, so what’s not to love?

Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders

Moment of truth – I’m not actually finished this book just yet, but that doesn’t matter. This book is fantastic, and I am loving every minute I’m reading it!

Detailing the traditions of Christmas, where they came from, and how they came to be in the form we recognise today. Christmas trees, yule logs, carollers at the front door – OK, it *is* a very British and Euro-centric book –  this book is a wealth of interesting tidbits that might help you out at a pub quiz some time in the future. Maybe it’s just because I’m a language geek, but the way this book uses excerpts of ‘ye olde English’ to illustrate the information is one of my favourite parts of this book. For example, did you know that Christmas carols were originally written as ‘macaronic carols’ (carols written in two different languages). I didn’t know that word – I had visions of sheet music made out of macaroni elbows!

A perfect read for the geek in your life.

The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo

I’ve always been a fan of Michael Morpurgo – I remember reading My Friend Walter as a 10-year-old, and being struck by the way he told the story of a modern day girl and an Elizabethan ghost. I’ve read many more of his stories in the years since, and this short story has become one of my annual Christmas reads.

When people get older, and move in to nursing homes and retirement villages, they leave behind furniture and other belongings that tell the stories of their life. In an abandoned desk, we find a letter telling the story of the great Christmas Day truce and football game between the British and German soldiers fighting each other in 1914. It’s a lovely story, and shows that even they we all have our differences, we have more in common. A beautiful book to share with children 8 years and up.

Whatever you choose to do this December, I hope you have a lovely summer break, and a Happy New Year, and remember to check out Christchurch City Libraries for more Christmas reads, watches, and music.

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete – Christmas Greetings to you all, and see you all in 2019.

Getting crafty for Christmas

As I write this, there are only 8 more sleeps till Christmas, and only two more weekend days but as usual, I have only just begun the annual tradition of making a Christmas gift each for Miss Missy and the Young Lad.

Of course I left deciding what to make till the last minute. For the Young Lad, I finally settled on a Batman cape and cowl. And some gauntlets. And a utility belt too. But when I asked Uncle Google for patterns, I just wasn’t happy with any of the suggestions. They seemed to be either waaaaay too complex (how to’s for making a latex full-face Batman mask) or didn’t really look like Batman (why do so many people think that a Zorro-style mask will do the trick?) or waaaay too simple (I’m talking something that looked like a pillowcase with a couple of eyeholes).

This simply wouldn’t do.

What is a librarian to do? Why, look for a book, of course!

And this is what I found:

9781589239449Super Hero Sewing by Lane Huerta.  Although there isn’t an actual Batman costume, I felt like these ones could easily be adapted to what I had in mind. There are lots of really cool costumes and accessories, including pirates, butterfly wings, and cute animals.  And what do you know? the other day I came home to see the Young Lad wearing a Batman-T-shirt-Superman-cape combo, and Miss Missy told me he had said “I wish Mum could make me a Batman cape!”  That’s the way to melt your mother’s heart, Young Lad!

I also found How to Make a Onesie by Janelle Fischer.  I briefly considered switching from cape and cowl to a superhero onesie, but I think the Young Lad would rather look like real Batman, than like Batman-in-his-PJs.

9781440244476Now, if it wasn’t enough to make all those costume items, I then decided that of course Batman would also need his sidekick, and that a Robin soft toy was going to be essential. Last year, right in time for handmade gift madness, I discovered Happy Quilts! by Antonie Alexander, and used the robot quilt applique blocks to make a cushion for the Young Lad. At the time, I was torn between that, and one of the co-ordinating toys.

So, naturally, this year a bedtime superhero toy is a must. Giving the pattern a Robin look has actually been quite easy, and it’s coming along amazingly quickly! Just the cape and mask to go now! The book is really easy to follow, and all the patterns are included on a disc, so you can just print them out instead of having to trace them off a pattern sheet.

Robin toy at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
Nearly finished Robin toy with Happy quilts book

9781617454332Of course, I also have a gift for Miss Missy to make… maybe she’d like a little bag…?

… How many days did I say there are till Christmas?

Christmas inspiration from RBdigital

Need inspiration for your Christmas day? Have a look at RBdigital magazines with everything from table decoration, food, craft, music and more!

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The Other Side of Christmas

We all look forward to Christmas, don’t we? Well, maybe not everyone does. As well as family gatherings, stuffing ourselves with turkey, Uncle (insert name here) with one too many glasses of bubbly aboard regaling us with heroic tales of his long-gone youth and opening presents, as with all things in life, Christmas has its downside.

The struggle to write and post all our Christmas cards before the NZ Post cut-off dates. After all, no one likes to look callous and uncaring at Christmas. Or the harassed shoppers fighting the crowds to complete their present buying list. Oh no, Ballantynes have sold the last Nativity scene doily that I wanted to give to deeply-religious Aunty Doris!

But if it is all looking a little stressful, take a moment out of your busy pre-Christmas schedule to enjoy these offerings from the library and you’ll be feeling better in no time.

CoverCharley Jordan Streaming MusicCover

You can stream some music to counteract those sickly carols pumped out at your local mall. Charley Jordan sings Christmas Christmas Blues, Christmas Tree Blues, No Christmas Blues and the Santa Claus Blues so this is a man who knows about the bittersweet nature of the festive season.

Or perhaps it is something to suck the saccharine out of your children you seek.

And when you are sprawled exhausted on the couch on Christmas Eve, spook yourself gently or chuckle into Yuletide with the following:

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Christmas eMagazines on RBDigital 2017

Get your Christmas inspiration online with eMagazines. Check out the titles on RBDigital.

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Have yourself a very library Christmas

Get yourself into the festive season with these free Christmas Crafts and Activities at your libraries:

Pohutukawa and music notes

Make your own Popsicle Stick decorations – Mon 18 to Fri 22 Dec

Find out when and where

Recycle and Repurposed Christmas Craft at South Library – Mon 18 to Fri 22 Dec

Join us for Christmas craft. Recycled papers and cardboard as well as pens, crayons and other recycled materials will be provided to be re-purposed for Christmas decorations and gifts.
11am to 2pm from Monday 18 December to Friday 22 December.

Family Christmas Storytimes at Linwood Library – Thurs 21 Dec

Linwood Library would like to celebrate the Christmas season by having a special family Christmas Storytimes on Thursday 21 December 2017 from 5.30- 6.30 pm.

A Library Christmas Carol at South Library  – Thurs 21 Dec

A library Christmas Carol. Bring the whole family for a relaxed evening of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and songs and live music! Outside South library bring a rug and cushion. Thurs 21 December 6pm to 7pm.

Check also:

The 12 sounds of Christmas

December is here and it’s time to make merry!

Pohutukawa and music notes

Break out the ugly Christmas shirts, decorate the house and surrounds, start thinking about that all-conquering Christmas lunch, and sing a happy tune – but which tune…?

Here are some ideas to give you the soundtrack of seasonal festivity that you deserve! 🙂

The 12 Sounds of Christmas

List created by DevilStateDan

The merry season is finally upon us so let’s kick start our festive cheer with some suitably Christmassy tunes to accompany you through the month of merry-making!

Felice navidad, joyeaux noel, and meri kirihimete!!

  • The Absolute Best Christmas Album in the World– Ever! Well this album is talking some BIG festive talk! What a collection of songs and artists though and it’ll surely set you up in the right merry spirit.
  • The Ultimate Classical Christmas Or maybe you prefer a classical kind of Christmas…!? Here’s a beaut collection of orchestral merriment.
  • Christmas Duets Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without ol’Elvis belting out some suitably festive crooning – don’t have a blue Christmas, get some Elvis!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas From Chuck Berry to Brenda Lee – you can’t go wrong when you’re rockin’ out your Christmas with these tunes.
  • A Country Christmas Another star studded compilation and is it just me or does Christmas music really lend itself beautifully to the country genre…!?
  • This Christmas Who knew!?!? The legend of John Travolta, along with some of his friends (including jazz legend Chick Corea!) sharing the merriment with us.
  • Putumayo presents Latin Christmas A world view here with some Latin Christmas rhythms and vibes, a good one for a lively Christmas gathering!
  • Merry Christmas, Baby Rockin’ Rod Stewart giving it the Christmas treatment..?? What’s not to love!?
  • James Taylor at Christmas Some mellow Christmas vibes from the great James Taylor, for a nice cruisey Christmas.
  • Christmas The big sounds of Celtic Thunder doing Christmas. Expect some matinee cabaret gold!
  • Christmas in the Heart How does Bob Dylan do Christmas!? Very nicely as it turns out!
  • The Christmas Album Frank Sinatra is a December constant in my family – no-one does Christmas better then Frank!

View Full List »

Prefer to get your music online? See Simone’s recommendations for Christmas playlists from our online streaming services.

Falalalala – Christmas music playlists

Christmas music is marmite kind of thing you either love it or hate it. Research by psychologists have found that listening to too much Christmas music too early has a detrimental effect one’s mental health, especially for those who work in retail.

If you are hosting the family or friends during this festive season you may want some background music that you haven’t heard a million times over at the mall. We have some excellent music streaming services  such as Alexander Street Music Online, Naxos Music Library and Naxos Jazz. Using these resources you can find some curated Christmas Music Playlists with classical and jazz Christmas music that won’t drive you nuts.

Classical Christmas Music

Christmas Jazz Music

If you would like to check what other Christmas albums are available check Alexander Street Music Online and Naxos Music Library and Naxos Jazz.

Or for CDs from our collection check out Dan’s Christmas music picks.

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Christmas on Zinio

Read Christmas issue eMagazines on the go – Check out the titles available via Zinio.

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